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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Exploiting Qatar’s poor – do we do it too?


How complicated can it be to get your house cleaned?

Well, that depends on your conscience. 

Doha expat resident Glen McKay of Skeptic in Qatar recently blogged about hiring a maintenance man who does odd jobs to clean his flat. 

Throughout the post, he wrestles with justifying the astonishingly low wage he has agreed to pay the cleaner. 

The subject, mundane to some but one that still strikes a chord with me, made me wonder whether we expats of privilege are responsible for further exploiting Qatar’s poor.

Here are some excerpts of McKay’s piece:

Today I arranged for a cleaner to come by my apartment. A friend of mine recommended him; apparently he’s a maintenance guy at some building but cleans my friend’s apartment for extra money…

He wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t want to be rushed, it took him about three hours to clean my one-bedroom apartment! Not because he was slow but because he was so thorough. He removed all the books from bookshelves to dust the shelves, he wiped down the legs of chairs, he moved the furniture to sweep and mop underneath, he took everything out of the medicine cabinet to wipe it down, he did a fantastic job. Yet he was a little worried that I wouldn’t think he did a good job — he wanted me to do an inspection to see if I was happy.

Three hours work, for $11.

I gave him QAR 50, a 20% tip, and drove him back to the apartment building where he works, he had a shift starting later that afternoon.

I then took the car in to get something minor fixed and while I was waiting went to a nearby Western-style café. It was lunch time so I ordered a cappuccino and a sandwich and spent the next 45 minutes reading a newspaper and watching the news on the nearby television. When it was time to pick up my car I asked for the bill.

The cappuccino and sandwich was QAR 44.

I’m going to start paying the cleaner more.

Read the full story here. 

What do you guys think? Should we be paying cash-strapped workers more for odd jobs? Should we be tipping them more?

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